Even though we stayed here in California this year for Christmas it still felt like a vacation with Eric having a couple days off from work and we spent 4 nights at Eric's parents house. The Gerdts' and Suman's houses are pack with people and kids and it was so much fun spending so all that time together although it was nice to home in our own beds with a daughter that is happy to go to bed and take naps.
After Casey and Eric made their individual Lego castles they decided to build one big joint castle and to enlist the help of Bill and Mark. It took all day long but we were all pretty impressed.
Here is the photo tour:
And more Rock Band. We unlocked all of the songs so the next day Bryan got Rock Band 2!
This is Eric: Every morning growing up, I would see Saddleback Mountain in the distance as I walked out our front door to school. It's the highest point in Orange County. My parents now live right up in the foothills of the mountain. Bryan has always wanted to hike up to the peak and finally talked Casey, Mark, and I into doing it the day after Christmas.
We left at 5:15 in the morning. You have to take a gnarly dirt road to the trailhead which was no problem in Bryan's Jeep.
The hike was really pretty. It's 16 miles round trip. It has been raining and snowing a lot in California, so everything was really green. The last 1.5 miles of the hike were completely snow-covered. It was pretty remarkable that we were still in Orange County and hiking through a couple feet of snow. We took our time hiking up and planned on enjoying the view from the peak. When we got there, the temperature dropped about 20 degrees to 29F. It was freezing and windy.
A lot of radio stations have their broadcast towers at the peak. When we got to the top, there were 3 men up there to do maintenance who had flown a helicopter up to the peak. The pilot of the helicopter said there was no way we would make it down before it got dark and that we should camp up there. We wanted to prove him wrong, so we set out down the mountain. People always say stuff like, "hiking downhill is so much harder than hiking uphill." They're all lying. Hiking downhill is always easier than hiking uphill. We finally got to the car just as it started getting really dark outside. The road out felt much more brutal than in the morning when we had energy. We literally grunted and groaned in unison every time Bryan drove through the bigger holes.
It was a really good hike. Next is the Pacific Crest Trail. Maybe some day.
On Christmas morning Ava was so excited to see her new kitchen set at the bottom of the stairs. She was saying - "wow, "chicken"...fun!"
It took her all day to open her gifts. There was so much happening that she wasn't really into opening presents. What a strange child. But, now that we are home she is enjoying them more with less distractions.
We had a yummy breakfast of donuts and bacon. I couldn't ask for much more. Camille and Bryan got Rockband for the Wii and that pretty much summed up the rest of the afternoon for most of us.
Casey and Eric built castles out of Legos too.
It rained a lot on Christmas and was chilly out but that didn't stop Meredith from trying out a new toy of Jeremy's from Gram. Nice trash bag.
We started Christmas Eve with a lunch at Wahoos with some friends, the Mladineos and Hopes. It's always fun to catch up and chat - of course this consisted mostly about politics, the economy, and blogging.
That evening the Sumans hosted their annual party. We went caroling to two fire stations. Ava learned about caroling last week went we went to some of the neighbors homes in RSM. She loved it! She handed everyone the plate of cookies and by the end of the night she was singing Jingle Bells and saying Merry Christmas. So she was happy to be out there doing it again.
The firemen were expecting us since the Sumans and friends have done this for 15 years. One of the stations opened their doors, gave the kids hats, and let the kids climb on the trucks.
Ava wasn't too excited about leaving or about taking a family picture.
When we got home we had a nice program and dinner. It was a fun night with family and friends.
So, they weren't really apart of the program but earlier they serenaded us anyways.
Christmas is here! We are so excited to celebrate with friends and family the next two days. We'll be spending this year with the Suman family and we're so happy that so many of us could be together this year. There are a lot of great activities planned and of course the kids are all looking forward to Santa's visit.
We sent out Christmas cards again this year and we've decided that, for us, the photo card is the way to go. Here it is:
Since we didn't include a letter with our card we decided to put a little end of the year note on our blog so for those who don't check it regularly can get a quick little blurb on what we're up to.
Our little family has had such a great year. Eric is working for his uncle, Rich, doing accounting. He now is officially a CPA and is enjoying working hard. Eric also has completed his first marathon this year in Big Bear, CA. It took a lot of preparation but he accomplished a great goal and looks forward to running other races this next year. Eric is also the 11 year-old Boy Scout leader for our ward and works with the boys every Tuesday night.
I have been busy at home with Ava. I feel very fortunate to be able to stay home with her and be a mom full time. It is a lot of work but we keep really busy and try to do new things all the time, like going to different parks, Disneyland, and taking Mom and Me classes through the city of Huntington Beach. We also found out that I am pregnant with baby #2 due in June. I am trying to mentally prep myself for what it will be like having two kids around. We're really excited for this new adventure.
Ava is now two years old even though it seems like she's been two her whole life. Ava is a very busy, opinionated, and curious little girl. She knows what she wants and she tries to ensure that she gets it. We are secretly hoping that this next baby is really mellow and just likes to be cuddled. We love Ava's bright personality and love the ability to actually have a conversation with her. She is constantly making us laugh and we love to see her little smiling face, bright eyes, and crazy hair.
We still love living in Huntington Beach and our apartment hasn't felt too small...yet. Eric and I have been married for 6 1/2 years now. We still love to go to concerts, movies, and out to eat but this has become less frequent since having Ava. We have now learned to love the few moments in the evening to ourselves to just relax, talk, and maybe rent a movie. We have taken a couple of trips this year to visit family. We went to Utah in April, Florida in August, Utah/Idaho and Arizona in October. We've done a few local California trips too like Big Bear twice and beach camping in San Onofre. And of course, this summer was filled with a lot of visitors and the beach too.
So, here's to another great year for 2009. We are very grateful for all of our family and friends. We wish we could live near all of you and spend more time together but we love the times we do share. We hope your family is happy and healthy. Merry Christmas!
The Sumans Eric, Laura and Ava
Also, we wanted to thank everyone for your great Christmas cards, letters, and photos that you've sent to us. We love looking at our piano and remembering all of you during this happy time of the year!